Arsenal has often struggled in the Champions League when they play against supposedly weaker opposition yet seem to up their game against strong opposition especially when they are considered the underdogs.
How many times has Arsenal won Juventus? Take your pick… 2002 when Thierry Henry placed a superb freekick past Buffon before Bergkamp made a mockery of the whole Juventus defence or how about 2006 on our way to the Champions League final?
Arsenal has also won against the likes of AC Milan, Inter Milan and Real Madrid with unbelievable goals from Thierry Henry yet have struggled against the likes of Villareal, PSV Eindhoven and the Chelsea team of 2004 (a team Arsenal had won numerous times in the same season).
Granted, the last couple of seasons against Bayern Munich and Barcelona have brought little success but in Wenger’s defence, his team has been turned upside down numerous times during this period with players like Van Persie, Fabregas, Song, Nasri, and Clichy either injured or leaving for greener pastures. Arsene Wenger still managed to win some games against Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund even though Arsenal failed to navigate through these ties.
Now that Arsenal has a settled squad with enough experience and talent, they need to play against the top teams as they are always top of their game. Arsenal becomes lax when playing against weaker opposition. Monaco have proved to be a stubborn side to break down and Arsenal generally tend to struggle against disciplined opponents often being lured into a false sense of security before being hit with a sucker punch usually in the form of a counter attack.
Monaco might not exactly score bucket load of goals but they do score crucial ones doing just enough to win. One of the most painful goals I have seen Arsenal concede is against PSV Eindhoven when Alex scored a crucial away goal to knock us out in dramatic fashion. Arsenal need to be careful that it does not happen again.